The Way of the Word

20. March 2010

Review: Max Brooks – World War Z

Filed under: books,Commentary,general,review — jensaltmann @ 10:11
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Originally published in 2006.

It has been a decade since the zombie apocalypse. An intrepid reporter travels the world and talks with survivors of the Zombie War. The plague of the undead started in China and spread from there all over the world. Israel walled itself in to keep the undead out. Governments all over the world, realizing they couldn’t possibly save everyone, drew back, abandoning their peoples to the zombies, entrenching themselves with a handful of people in defensible positions. For years, all the remnants of humanity did was try to survive, without hope for tomorrow.

Until they had enough. Until they decided they had to take back the world, the future. But what kind of future, on a devastated world? And what kind of world has risen from the ashes of the zombie apocalypse?

In World War Z, Brooks’s look at the world after the zombie apocalypse takes the form of interviews. We see the war through the eyes of several survivors from all over the world. We read about the ecological devastation, about the Iran-Pakistan nuclear exchange, the Holy Russian Empire that has risen from what was left of current Russia.  He spends most of the time on describing the fall of mankind, as opposed to the relatively few pages about how we reclaim what’s left of the Earth. Rightly so, considering that the world during the zombie apocalypse is more interesting than reading variations about how soldiers move across the world shooting zombies in the head.

It’s a fightening and compelling book, the closest to unputdownable that I have read this year. It’s book full of tragedy, and there were a few scenes that tore at my heartstrings. Even though Brooks’s book travels the entire world, it’s clear where his personal loyalties lie — after the war, the only country that seems to be worth living in appears to be what’s left of the US. Except for that, he attempts the part of the neutral observer, which makes the effect of several chapters even more chilling. At least for me, some chapters made me think that after the war, those who died were the lucky ones.

World War Z is a chilling, sad and frightening read. The premise of the zombie apocalypse is the only far-fetched aspect of this story. The reactions of the humans are far too plausible.

The best zombie stories use the undead as a tool to shine a light on some of the less savory aspects of the human condition. World War Z attempts the same and succeeds at it.

Verdict: Very recommended


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